1. Train this guy to take your job
“The company taking over security from commissionaires at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport is using ‘underhanded’ methods to train new employees, says the president of the union local representing the current guards,” reports Preston Mulligan for the CBC:
Gary Toohey, head of Local 85100 of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said G4S Canada has invited commissionaires to come in on their time off and train new, inexperienced security staff.
G4S is due to start providing airport security next month.
Toohey said the private security firm previously approached Commissionaires Nova Scotia and asked them to provide on-the-job training for security guards — a request that was flatly denied.
“We said, ‘No, that’s not going to happen,’” said Toohey, adding the airport authority supported the commissionaires’ stand not to train workers who would be taking over their jobs.
G4S said only one person has agreed to offer the training in their personal time.
“That training has been done on a voluntary basis, and they will be paid,” said Katie McLeod, the company’s national director of communications.
This is yet another example of a quasi-government agency with practices that force workers to labour at poverty wages. (The airport sits in its own corporate world as a “locally controlled, non-share capital corporation,” but governments have defined and regulate that world, so while the airport authority is not technically a government agency, it is doing the work that would otherwise be done by government.)
The airport is forever congratulating itself on its progressive business practices. I note its mission statement:
A world-class airport creating prosperity for our region by connecting Atlantic Canada to the world through flight.
And its “vision”:
Great people creating the best airport community in the world.
Its stated “values”:
At Halifax International Airport Authority, we are a team with a common vision and mission. The foundation of our vision and mission is built upon our core values. We are committed to these values to guide us in our decisions, actions, and behaviours, to support the success of the organization, each other, and our stakeholders.
We are transparent and behave with integrity. We accept responsibility for our actions and take the initiative to improve our airport every day.
We value differences and diversity in individuals. We treat each other and our environment with respect.
We promote a trusting, open and inclusive environment. We approach each interaction with professionalism and pride and make our airport a welcome place for employees, stakeholders and visitors.
We celebrate our accomplishments and work together by listening and communicating effectively, building on each other’s strengths and helping each other to grow professionally.
We value the communities in which we do business and where we live. We are committed to contributing by providing leadership in economic development and social responsibility.
I guess that “world-class prosperity” doesn’t extend to the “great” people providing security and the “respect” shown people working at the airport extends only so far as throwing their jobs under the bus.
The airport is financially successful — it brought in $91.68 million in revenue last year, with revenue exceeding expenses by over $2.5 million. The airport can afford to pay its workers decently, and it should adopt a living wage policy that would require itself and its contractors to pay a living wage.
The board of directors at the airport is composed of successful business people; none of them are hurting financially. They oversee an agency whose stated values include respecting the people who work at the airport, and yet they have just destroyed the livelihood of the commissionaires by awarding the security contract to a firm that pays poverty wages.
The directors should be ashamed. They can, however, redeem themselves by adopting a living wage policy.
It’s the right thing to do.
2. Registry of Joint Stock Companies
The province this morning issued a tender for the badly needed revamp of the database for the Registry of Joint Stock Companies:
There are more than 85,000 active entities on file with the Registry, with approximately 8,000 new entities created each year. Historical records must be maintained for more than 300,000 entities and approximately 260,000 transactions are processed each year generating upwards of $14 Million in annual revenue.
Legislation requires that information filed with the RJSC be made available to the public. This is achieved today, in part, through the provision of a static searchable online database.
The information system managing the operations of the RJSC today is known as the Registry Information System (REGIS) and it is supported by an external service provider. While REGIS has proven to be a stable application with very few system outages and meets the basic legislative requirements of the Registry, the technology is now more than 20 years old. REGIS was built in PowerBuilder version 5.0, but customized to meet the specific requirements of the program. The core PowerBuilder application is not able to be refreshed and the significant customization and the age of the application represent a risk to the operations of the registry and the Province’s ability to deliver this program.
I use the Registry pretty much every day via the internet, and about once a month I go to the Registry office in the Maritime Centre to look up historic corporate information — there’s a considerable amount of information not available through the Registry website but which sits on the database and is accessible via a single, ancient, 1990s-era public terminal in the office.
The people who work at the Registry are helpful and beyond patient, but the computer systems they use are horrible, so it’s good to see this tender put out, and especially so since the Liberal government wisely backtracked on a trial balloon it released early in its mandate to privatize the Registry.
One problem with the current system is that it only allows one way searches — you can look up a company and find its directors, but you can’t search for a person’s name and find out all the boards he or she sits on. I’m told the system once allowed these kind of reverse searches (akin to a reverse phone directory), but it was discontinued, for supposed “privacy” reasons. I hope that’s incorrect — if true, it’s ridiculous. These are publicly registered companies, and the public has a right to know who sits on which boards of directors. So my hope is that the new system will allow reverse searches. Also, if that historic information could be made available via the website…
3. Union negotiations put off until January
The NSGEU issued the following statement yesterday:
The NSGEU’s Civil Service Union Negotiating Committee is scheduling more bargaining dates in the New Year with the Employer after two days at the bargaining table failed to produce a tentative agreement.
“It is unfortunate we couldn’t get a deal at the table over the last two days,” says Jason MacLean, President of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union. “The Employer’s position remains far apart from ours and we want them to come back to the table after the holidays with a more reasonable position so we have a chance of reaching an agreement.”
No new dates have been confirmed as yet.
4. Struck by lightning
Darren Webb, of Liverpool, was struck by lightning yesterday. He should buy a lottery ticket today.
“Halifax council calls for a much-needed second opinion on our bus route network,” writes Erica Butler.
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2. “Closest to Europe”
As I’ve argued before, the argument that the port of Halifax or proposed ports in Melford and Sydney will be successful because they are the port in North America “closest to Europe” makes no sense. Because transporting stuff by sea is extremely cheap and transporting it on land is really expensive, shippers are looking not to use the port closest to Europe but rather the port closest to the point of destination.
Let’s take an example. If you’ve got a boatload of containers you want to send from Rotterdam to, say, Columbus, Ohio, you ideally want to get that boat as close as you possibly can to Columbus and then reduce your land costs as much as possible. Best case scenario would be to get your boat to Baltimore and put the containers on a train. Maybe your boat is too big for Baltimore, tho, so you’ll need to send it a bit farther away from Columbus, to Norfolk, perhaps, where there are double-stacked trains that can go to Columbus. What you absolutely don’t want to do is to dock far away in Halifax and unload the entire boat, putting each container on a truck requiring one driver per box, and then drive them all the way to Columbus. You also don’t want to dock in Sydney and move the boxes to five smaller ships, sail those ships through the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes to Cleveland, and then put them on trucks.
Here’s an analogy I wrote this morning:
By the logic of “closest to Europe,” the terminal should be in Newfoundland, or Iceland, or Ireland… excuse the HRM analogy, but it’s as if I had a box of T-shirts to transport from my house in Dartmouth to a business in Bedford. The ideal, of course, would be to just drive right to the business, park in the parking lot, and deliver the shirts. But suppose for some reason (paving, lack of deepwater, whatever) there isn’t a parking lot at the business… I’m going to have to park at some remove and walk the rest of the way to the business, carrying the box of shirts with me. What Nova Scotia port advocates are essentially arguing is that I should park as close as I can to… my home in Dartmouth — maybe just across the Macdonald Bridge in Halifax — and walk the remaining 22km to Bedford, lugging the shirts with me. Obviously, it would make more sense to park as close as I can to Bedford, maybe in the Clearwater parking lot, and make my walk as short as possible.
No public meetings.
Thesis Defence, Psychology (10am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jennifer Richards will defend her thesis, “Do Young Children Understand Anonymity and Does Anonymity Influence Their Sharing?”
In the harbour
5:30am: Theban, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southhampton, England
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
8:30am: Gaschem Baltim, LPG tanker, sails from Anchorage for sea
9:30pm: Theban, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
10:30am: NYK Meteor, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Rotterdam
9:30pm: Theban, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
9;30pm: NYK Meteor, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
7am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
11:30am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport back to Pier 41
6pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.
The holiday season is typically a slow news time, which is why media outlets do “best of the year” listicles and other annoying retrospective nonsense. We’ll have none of that here.
Morning File will take Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, and January 2 off, but otherwise will continue to be published. Katie Toth will fill in for me tomorrow, and I know El Jones has a fascinating story for Christmas Eve day. I expect Morning Files will be mostly brief. Otherwise, we’ll publish Stephen Kimber on the next two Tuesdays (rather than Mondays), and Erica Butler on the next two Wednesdays (rather than Tuesdays). Examineradio will come out as usual on Fridays. Other than that, unless something extraordinary happens (it might!), I don’t expect much else on the site until after the New Year. I’m going to catch up on reading and email, clean up my computer, write some Dead Wrong, and maybe relax in there somewhere.
Re: Airport and Living Wage.
Focus also on the airlines
I’ve worked for one of the contract companies that does below the wing ground handling (Baggage, etc). Air Canada and Porter have their own people while Westjet contracts out to Swissport (Serviceair before that, and who knows how many other incarnations before that). These contract companies pay the bare minimum and their wage scale is horrible. Some people have been working the ramp for 20+ years and are probably only making $15-20/hr depending on what their position is. Sad part is these jobs are all union jobs. Porter paid more and is non-union. Air Canada is, well, Air Canada. These companies are HUGH, multi-national huge. Serviceair was owned by middle eastern company when I was working with them.
Companies like that have no future for people working for them. There was a lot, and I mean a lot, of turnover.
Next time you’re buying your ticket, take that into mind. The only place where Westjet has their own people below the wing is Calgary I think.
Swissport is owned by a Chinese company Hainan – http://www.hnagroup.com/index.php/about
Your Partially right on the container front. The part your missing is predictable delivery. Halifax’s success as a port comes in part because we can get containers off a boat, on a train, and to the Midwest faster then some us ports can.
If we can maintain that, we will be a successful port. with small but steady growth.
but this is also why Sydney makes no sense. the rail line sucks, its too far away from the mainstream, and probably wont be able to offer speed advantages over Halifax.
Why not just declare that little rock that Canada and Denmark are in a dispute over to be part of Canada, thereby making it the closest to Europe?
The Halifax Airport Authority should be visited by three ghosts and be shamed/frightened into practicing what they preach. Using their power granted them by the public, they could establish the Airport as a living wage zone and institute a prerequisite for all those contractors they hire and for all contractors who work at the complex to be paid a basic living wage as a minimum
As for the security situation, this scares the hell out of me. These are people responsible for safety and security of travellers, not floor cleaners “learning the ropes” from the last person doing the job. This is in fact a scandal and the Authority should be taken to task officially for putting the safety and security of travellers at risk.
An excellent point.
Cranky comment of the day:
Not only isn’t the airport paying a living wage but did anyone else find the grammar/usage of their values statement grating? “Integry” “Respect” “Inclusive”? That should be “Inclusivity”, right?
Tim I am very happy with your efforts to promote a living wage. While I have felt it was a noble cause for quite a long time, I must admit I did not have a good understanding about such things as the impact of contracting out to the lowest bidder, having community organizations run HRM recreational facilities, etc. I guess I had just not given it enough thought.
Why couldn’t governments and public agencies set a floor for wages in order to ensure a living wage for anyone providing contracted services, and then judge the bidders on the best quality work? That would represent a shift to hiring contractors for the best service delivery rather than the cheapest price. It would also represent a commitment to a minimum standard of compassion and respect.
Have a great Christmas and a well-deserved rest, as there will be much more work to be done on this and other issues in 2017.
I have also been very happy to see, and learn about, the living wage issue and I hope you can continue to cover and highlight it as one of the more important issues of our time. Your “race to the bottom” and “if only we were all paid less” arguments are so appropriate to such a wide array of public (and private) business dealings that I think covering them in a journalistic way as you do (including the more informal setting of Morning File) is going to be a benefit to those working to lobby for and implement such policies.
Thanks for all your (and your contributors’) hard work — I’m looking forward to a World Class, Innovative, Examiner-filled 2017!
Merry Christmas to you Tim and all the folks that bring us The Examiner.